Saudi Arabia could look to adopt nuclear energy as a way to move domestic energy consumption away from oil. the country`s foreign minister told CNBC Sunday.
Adel Al-Jubeir said that the world`s largest oil exporter was exploring the use of nuclear energy as part of its transition away from an oil-based energy system.
`We are looking at a number of countries that have nuclear technology for peaceful purposes.` he said. speaking to CNBC from the Munich Security Conference.
`We are looking at the issue of the viability of building nuclear reactors in order to produce energy so that we can save the oil and export it in order to generate revenue.` he added.
In 2006. the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) that includes Saudi Arabia and five other Middle Eastern nations announced that it was commissioning a study into the peaceful use of nuclear energy.
In 2010 too. Saudi Arabia issued a royal decree in which it said: `The development of atomic energy is essential to meet the Kingdom`s growing requirements for energy to generate electricity. produce desalinated water and reduce reliance on depleting hydrocarbon resources.`
Now. the World Nuclear Association notes that Saudi Arabia plans to construct 16 nuclear power reactors over the next 20 to 25 years at a cost of more than $80 billion. This would mean it does not have to rely on its own oil for its domestic energy needs. `Saudi Arabia consumes over one-quarter of its oil production. and while energy demand is projected to increase substantially. oil production is not. and by 2030 a large proportion will be consumed domestically. much of it for electricity generation.` the World Nuclear Association notes on its website.
In January. Bloomberg reported that Saudi plans to award contracts in December for the construction of its first nuclear power plants. citing a government official involved with the project. The report noted that Saudi Arabia had received requests from five bidders from China. France. the U.S.. South Korea and Russia `to perform the engineering. procurement and construction work on two nuclear reactors.`
Speaking to CNBC. Al-Jubeir said Saudi Arabia was talking to around 10 countries around the world about developing nuclear energy infrastructure. but that a decision had not yet been made.
`We have not made a decision yet with regards to which path we will take and which country we will be focusing on more.` he said.
He added that Saudi Arabia wanted the same rights as other countries to produce its own nuclear energy. saying `our objective is we want to have the same rights as other countries.`